I overheard a conversation between two friends in a church and it went something like this – “He’s a very faithful man. He comes to church every weekend and has been a Christian for a long time.” That set me thinking about the word “faithful” and its true meaning, as I recalled what Jesus taught in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.
This parable began with the master, prior to his long trip, giving some talents (money) to his servants, each according to their own ability. It ended with the master returning and asking each of them to give an account for the talents entrusted to them. The servant who had received five talents went and traded (invested) with them, and made another five talents. Likewise, the servant who had received two talents gained two more. But the servant who had received one talent went and dug in the ground, and hid his master’s money.
Now here’s the important part with a twist – the servant who doubled his five talents to 10 talents was commended by his master with a “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Likewise, the servant who doubled his two talents to four talents was also commended with a “Well done, good and faithful servant…”.
However, the servant who maintained his one talent faithfully by burying it in the ground and returned it to his master, was not commended with a “Well done, good and faithful servant…”. Instead, he was given a harsh rebuke in verse 26, “You wicked and lazy servant…” and judgement was pronounced over him in verses 28-30 where the one talent he had was taken away from him and he was cast into “the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
If maintaining that one talent and returning it to the Lord is not considered as being “good and faithful”, but deemed as “wicked and lazy”, then we need to reconsider our understanding of what being “faithful” means, not from our perspective but according to God’s definition because that’s where it truly counts.
Here are some takeaways from this parable with a solemn warning:
1. Like the servants in the parable, all of us are given at least one talent. So there are no excuses to say you’ve no talent to contribute. Romans 12:3 (AMP) explains it this way, that “God has apportioned to each a degree (measure) of faith (and a purpose designed for service).”
2. To grow, you need faith. And faith is spelt R-I-S-K. The servants who multiplied the talents traded, invested and took risks. They stepped out of their comfort zones and exercised their faith. They were found to be “faith-full”. When was the last time you took some risks for the Lord? To step up and heal the sick? To share the Good News with someone you don’t know? To trust God in what you’re seeking for? To answer that cry which you cannot shake off? As someone said, “A ship in the harbour is safe. But that’s not what the ship was created for.”
3. We’re not judged by the number of talents we have, so stop comparing with one another.
4. God is a savvy investor. He expects returns on His investment. He expects you to do something about what He’s given you. Status quo is likened to being lazy. When Jesus comes back, He’s going to ask – “What did you do with what I’ve given you?”
5. One area to be faithful and fruitful in is in the area of discipleship. I personally do not think that “making disciples” is an option for Christians. That you can live through this life all by yourself, without reproducing yourself with what the Lord has entrusted to you, and expect a reward and commendation from Him saying “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To be found faithful is to be found engaging and discipling people in the ways of God and what Jesus taught us, including our children.
May we always walk worthy of the Lord, bringing pleasure to Him in all that we do and being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Him (Colossians 1:10). To hear Him say over us these six most important words in our lives that will forever be recorded in eternity – “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
And the next time when you come across the word “faithfulness”, think “fruitfulness!”